St Brigid’s strike late to claim first All-Ireland title
Frankie Dolan’s last-gasp point completes fightback against Ballymun
The defence, which had been razor-sharp in its focus in the semi-final, looked at sixes and sevens – struggling under the high ball and never managing the powerful collective synchromesh that had shut out Dr Croke’s. In fact Mannion’s point in first-half injury-time came directly from Ballymun’s inability to complete a sequence of hand passes by clearing the ball.
As against Crossmaglen, the Connacht champions applied themselves industriously to hindering the smooth running of counter attacks from the back.
Philly McMahon’s digitally accurate kick passes that had opened up Croke’s like a scalpel also went awry in the early stages and there were unmistakeable signs of unease even though Ballymun were sitting on a good lead.
On the line Kevin McStay and Liam McHale were quicker to address their issues than Paul Curran – who was reliving the nightmare of his playing career when Thomas Davis lost the 1992 final also by a point. They shifted Darragh Donnelly to centre forward to reconfigure the attack whereas Ballymun took longer to bail out George in his travails on Kilbride.
It was Kilbride who popped in the ball for Cathal McHugh to break, allowing Mannion swoop and fist the second goal, which equalised the match in the 38th minute at 2-7 each, the second breach of the Dubliners’ previously impenetrable defence.
Although James Burke, whose intelligent support running yielded two points from wing back, restored the lead Brigid’s hit back within a minute – as they did six times during the match.
Dolan was now to the fore. He equalised Burke’s point, restored the lead at 2-10 to 2-9 in the 46th minute and after Jason Whelan had levelled nine minutes later it was he who had the last word.
The match had still been there for Ballymun but missed frees by Rock and Whelan would prove costly and when their last attack got turned over by Niall Grehan, they were forced to pay the price.
ST BRIGID’S: S Curran; J Murray, D Donnelly (0-1), G Cunniffe; N Grehan, P Domican, R Stack; K Mannion (1-2), I Kilbride; D Kelleher, F Dolan (0-4, one 45), D Dolan; Cathal McHugh, S Kilbride (1-3), R Blaine (0-1). Subs: G Dolan for Kelleher (half-time), E Sheehy for McHugh (46 mins), Conor McHugh for Blaine (52 mins), D Kelleher for G Dolan (59 mins).
BALLYMUN KICKHAMS: S Currie; Eoin Dolan, S George, Enda Dolan; A Hubbard, K Connolly (0-1), J Burke (0-2); J McCarthy, Davy Byrne; E Reilly, K Leahy, J Whelan (0-2); T Furman (0-2), P McMahon (1-0), D Rock (1-3, three frees). Subs: Derek Byrne for Leahy (half-time), C Weir for George (41 mins), J Small for Reilly (50 mins).
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).